The best Autumn candles

Candle weather is back! Ok, not just yet. Today was actually quite mild but I don’t care, it’s autumn and it means that it’s time to add new candles to my collection. So I went on a little sniffing trip in town today to hunt for the best autumn scented candles (all in the name of blogging, of course). Here were my favourites:

What about you, do you have any favourite candles for autumn? 

The Cape Blanket

Wearing: Zara loafers, BDG skinny jeans, ASOS cape and Topshop hat

Why wear a regular coat when you can wear a cape? Actually, let me rephrase that. Why wear a regular coat when you can wear a super snug and stylish cape blanket? It’s a no-brainer, right? 

Capes are comfortable, they keep you warm and they’re really easy to wear. At the moment, I’m wearing mine with loafers, my favourite skinny jeans and my beloved Topshop hat but I’m planning on switching to sleek leather ankle boots, huge scarves and pom pom hats as soon as the temperatures drops of a few more degrees. Did I mention capes are great for layering too? Wear them with a blouse or a shirt for now and in a few weeks times, add a tank top, a jumper and a leather jacket. Want a bit of inspiration? Check out my Autumn Winter style board on Pinterest.

Trust me, this is a key piece to have in your wardrobe this Autumn/Winter! 

I’d love to know what you think of cape blankets. Have you succumbed to the trend yet?

Apple Picking at The White House Farm

Apple picking at the white house farm in norwich

Apple picking at the white house farm in norwich

Apple picking at the white house farm in norwich

Apple picking at the white house farm in norwich

Apple picking at the white house farm in norwich

Apple picking at the white house farm in norwich

Apple picking at the white house farm in norwich

Apple picking at the white house farm in norwich

Apple picking at the white house farm in norwich

Apple picking at the white house farm in norwich

I have a love/hate relationship with apples. They’re available pretty much all year long here in England and Rich has been buying bags of them more or less every week for weeks and even possibly years. Now, I know they say one apple a day keeps the doctor away and that’s probably true but surely whoever said that didn’t mean an apple a day every day for your entire existence! As you might have guessed, I ended up growing sick of them quite quickly and letting Rich eating them on his own. Instead I tried very hard to only purchase fruits that were in season so I would never get a chance to get bored of them. In case you’re wondering, it worked! I no longer hate apples.

This season, they’re making their big return and I’m actually quite excited about it. After all, they’re packed with benefits. They boost your immune system, give you whiter teeth and are low in calories so they’re good if you’re trying to control your weight a little. 

To embrace fully their return, I decided to make a little bit of a autumnal adventure out of it. Rich and I went to this Pick-Your-Own fruit farm in Norwich called the White House Farm. I previously blogged about it in this post when we went picking various berries back in June. It’s a beautiful and magical place to be, and especially when you’re there completely on your own. We gambled happily in the orchard, picking the most beautiful apples we could find and plotting which scrumptious recipes we’d use them for. So far, it’s a close tie between apple turnovers, apple & pear compotes or jam and apple crumble. Watch this space, the best recipes will make their way to the blog! 

Benji's in Jarrold

Shopping makes me hungry, it really does. It must be all the strolling, searching, wishing, picking, trying, buying... Not that this would ever stop me from indulging in a little retail therapy of course. I like my shopping sprees way too much, however after rummaging around countless racks, rails and coat hooks my tummy usually tells me it's time to have a sit down and fuel up before part II. If you've come with friends it's probably a good idea to have a sit down and actually chat and catch up on things. 

Do you know what's even better than a simple pit stop to refuel during your shopping adventure? A very stylish yet affordable restaurant serving delicious food and with a very pretty view on the city. 

That my friends, is exactly what you need.

And where's good you may ask? Well, I actually know just the place! Benji's. At Jarrold's. You know that family-owned department store in the city centre of Norwich? The one with the pillars at the front and the gorgeous floor to ceiling windows. That one. Get in there, take the escalator to the 1st floor (which so happens to be womenswear by the way. Another place you want to make sure you fully explore) and then you'll see it... Benji's restaurant! 

It's been recently refurbished and I really like the new look. The colour palette is all white, taupe and wood. It looks very sophisticated but very warm and welcoming at the same time. Grab one of the tables by the window to check out the lovely view I was telling you about.

The menu has been given a spruce up by Chef Nick Harris, whom I was lucky enough to meet thanks to Jarrold's who invited me and a handful of other bloggers to sample food from the new menu. Nick used to work in the West End of London prior to joining Jarrolds and he's cooked for the Queen and the Prime Minister as well! Needless to say I was jumping up and down with excitement - my home country of France, recognise Chefs as gods!

We started the evening by tasting a series of canapés served with bubbles. Look how pretty they are! The first ones were my favourites.

Nick very kindly did a cooking demonstration to show us how he makes the main that we were going to taste later in the evening. He explained how he only uses local produces and producers to create all of the dishes on the menu and of course this means that the menu changes regularly due to products going out of season. So if you like any of the dishes in the photos below, make sure to stop by within the next few weeks!

While our 3-course meal was being prepared, we all had a wander around the then-empty Jarrold, marvelling at clothes, homeware and their wonderful deli on the ground floor. Do you ever wonder what it's like to be let loose in an empty department store at night? Well, I have the answer. It's as awesome as it sounds! 

But let's not lose our focus here, after a saunter round the kitchenware department we came back upstairs, the starters had been lined up and it looked a.m.a.z.i.n.g! Picture this; seafood platters with crayfish, peppered mackerel, scallops, avocado, pickled vegetables, and seaweed crackers. There were also impressive meat boards with mini glazed pork sausages, apple sauce, ham hock, warm Satay chicken, chorizo and red pepper dip and last but not least, we were also served vegetarian garden boxes with hummus, sweet and sour aubergine, radishes, cherry tomatoes, chargrilled vegetables and flat breads. We all came back for more at least twice!

We were there presented with our main: pan fried sea bass with samphire salsa verdi and slow roasted tomatoes, which Chef Nick had whipped up in front of us earlier in the evening. For me the whole dish really came together thanks to the salsa verdi, which is the best thing I've been given to taste in a really long time! It accompanied the sea bass beautifully, which was seasoned to perfection. I'm salivating just thinking about it!

By that point, I was full but let's face it I still had room for the goats cheese and chocolate tasting we had been promised. The goats cheese was by Fielding Cottage, a Norfolk based family business, I very much enjoyed the Wensum White in particular. I asked Chef Nick for a cheeky tip as to how to serve a cheese like this one and he recommended an olive paste like tapenade or simply some olives on the side. 

The chocolates were by Dolce Momento, which was created by a Norwich-based Brazilian and Englishman. I tried the milk chocolate and it was buttery smooth and soft. A mouthful of heaven! Dropping Christmas gift ideas here... [hint...hint]. All products are of course available for purchase from Jarrold.

We all left content, full and happy, delighted by the amazing food we had sampled that night, goodie bag in hand and ready to blog about it all.

Thanks ever so much to the lovely Jarrold team for inviting Weekend Wonders to this great evening! We had a fantastic time.

10 things I'm looking forward to this Autumn

Autumn didn't really begin for me until about this weekend. On the day it “officially” started in September, I was on the beautiful island of Mallorca attempting to make the most of the last rays of sunshine and summer warmth before the weather cools down and darkens leaving us with very early nights and next to no light when we wake up in the morning. But now that I've had a chance to post about my late-summer trip on the blog, it's time to welcome the new season.

The truth is, I love Autumn! Possibly even more than Spring and I'm a huge Spring fan; that's when I get to celebrate my birthday and start my “traveling season”, which I desperately long for during the cold months. But there's a lot to look forward to at Autumn time too. The colours are just gorgeous for example. Ok, you won't see me parading around in yellow, orange, red or green any time soon but it's undeniable that these colours make for stunning scenery. With the countryside only a few minutes drive from me, I can't wait to take all of this in and savour the next couple of months ahead.

Here are some of the things I'm particularly looking forward to this year:

Source: Emily K Designs
1/ Apple picking and cooking
Even since I've discovered this PYO fruit farm near our house, I've been wanting to go back to pick apples or any fruit really. Just thinking of it makes me giggle like a school girl. I never did stuff like that when I was young, you see. I grew up in a big city so my fruit picking experiences were quite limited. Anyway, I have visions of Rich and I strolling in the middle of beautiful orchards in our Hunters, picking juicy apples along the way and plotting about the amazing recipes we'll use them for. I'm already daydreaming of my grandmother's apple pies, sunday morning's chaussons aux pommes and of course compote.

Source: Vinoteca
2/ Wine tastings
October is when the wine makers harvest their grapes and that's the best time to pop by your local vineyard for a little tasting. There are usually plenty of events around this time of the year so keep an eye out to see who's doing what and when. I'll be stocking up on a few bottles for our Autumn parties and to bring back to my family in France. My parents are keen wine drinkers. They usually stick to wine from our country but I'm sure they'll be excited to discover English wines too.

Source: Warsaw Tour / Piotr Buda
3/ Autumn walks in Hunters & Barbours
I mentioned it before but one of my favourite things about Autumn is its colours. As soon as I dig out my Hunters and beloved Barbour jacket, I'll be off to the countryside or local parks for long walks surrounded by beautiful tree leaves.

Source: unknown
4/ Endless cups of tea
I sometimes forget a little about coffee during Autumn time. Tea just seems more appropriate and comforting. A hot Earl Grey with some milk at the weekend, chamomile in the evenings and of course Kusmi Detox Tea during the week to try and stay clear from colds! 

Source: RH
5/ Cosy blankets
I love a cosy blanket. Actually I love being wrapped. When I'm on my couch at home, I like my toes to be tucked in and my body wrapped in something really warm and soft. For years I used a white blanket from Primark and it was just perfect but it's time to update it now so I look forward to hitting the shops to hunt for a new cosy cover.
Source: Happily Grey
6/ New fashion trends to play with
I've been longing for burgundy or camel-coloured fedora hats, belted military-style parkas, blanket capes, tartan scarves, knee-high boots and pea coats since the beginning of August so I literally cannot wait to go shopping and update my wardrobe. Finally!

Source: The Telegraph
7/ Autumn break in Lisbon
I'll be flying south again at the end of October to discover the colourful Lisbon in Portugal. I'm hoping for lovely walks through the Alfama district, fun rides on the yellow Tram 28, stunning views of the city from Castelo de Sao Jorge and evenings feasting on beautiful food, drinking wine and listening to Fado music. 

Source: Better Homes & Gardens
8/ Ghost tours and pumpkin carving for Halloween
On my first year in England, Rich and I carved a pumpkin. We haven't done it again since then. I genuinely can't remember why. All I remember is that it was pretty fun and kinda messy but in a good way. I don't really celebrate Halloween usually but this year I think it'd time to make the most of the festivities and try something new. There's this ghost tour in our neighbourhood about lots of local scary legends. That's probably totally going to freak me out but it could be fun so I'll be signing up for that!

Source: unknown
9/ Fireworks
The 5th of November in England is bonfire and fireworks night. People wrap up warm and head in town or parks to see incredible fireworks with friends and family. Rich and I are plotting a fun evening with our friends starting with comfort food at home before heading out for fireworks and mulled wine in the evening.

Source: Tim Parkinson
10/ Seal spotting
November is a great time to go seal spotting in Norfolk! I've missed it every single year since I moved here so I am not planning on letting it slip away from me this time. I heard that when they see you arriving on boat, they often come closer to see what's happening so you get to really have a look at them. How fun is that going to be!

What about you, what are you looking forward to this Autumn? Any fun things planned?